Did You Lose a Customer Today?

Do you know if you lost a customer today? Chances are good that you did and don’t even know it. Studies have found that as high as 95% of customers don’t complain even when they have minor complaints about a business. They just don’t come back. What does this mean to your business? First, make it easy for your customers to voice complaints. Many people are uncomfortable bothering managers and frontline employees especially with minor issues. And when they do, follow these 5 golden rules for handling them in a way that makes your customers feel valued and important. After all, losing a customer impacts every area of your business and ultimately the ability to grow your business. Research shows that if you can address a problem quickly and efficiently, a customer will be 20% MORE loyal than before the problem occurred. Golden Rules for Handling Customer Complaints Quickly Acknowledge. Customers expect you to acknowledge the situation quickly and start addressing the situation. Nothing shows that you value your customer more than acknowledgment. If you don’t, they are likely to move on. Efficiently Handle. Establish an efficient process for handling problems. Customers should expect to talk to one person who will do the leg work to solve the problem. Repeating the story when handed off to multiple people is frustrating. Don’t make the customer do the work to resolve the situation. Be friendly. A bad attitude tells the customer that you don’t care about them or the problem. A positive, approachable attitude makes your customer feel valued. Smile, be pleasant and have a helpful attitude. It really isn’t that hard....

The Power of Proactive Customer Service

Many companies provide traditional customer service. They wait until customers have questions or find out about problems before they take action. This is reactive service and can irritate customers, erode trust and destroy brands. Some examples include not informing customers about a delay in shipping or a delayed service call. An extreme example is GM’s delayed recall of 2.6 million vehicles for a defect that they knew existed and had already led to 13 deaths. While, companies often have to be reactive, there are opportunities to provide proactive customer service.  Proactive customer service is staying ahead of customer questions or issues and making the first move to offer solutions, before customers ask questions or reach out for help. Proactive customer service creates trust, loyalty and confidence in a business or brand.  Companies are getting better at spotting problems and addressing them before the customer notices. How can your company make the shift to take advantage of the power of proactive customer service?  Create a Customer Service Culture  Create a culture where all employees are focused on the customer, not just touchpoint employees. Employees throughout the organization should be encouraged to recognize problems that can affect customers and feel safe in bringing the problems and a proactive solution to light.   Know Your Customers  You can provide valuable proactive service when you understand your customers and what’s important to them. Engage with customers, especially your top customers, to identify interests and priorities. There are many ways businesses can engage customers. Our company helps businesses engage in real-time through two-way text communication. Using our platform, businesses can tailor interactions for different customer...

Customer Feedback Keeps Your Business in Top Shape

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine leased a new GMC vehicle. As part of the lease, he received a complimentary 3-month subscription to OnStar, the service that keeps a driver safe, connected and ready for the road. As part of this service, he receives a diagnostic report on many aspects of the vehicle including transmission, emissions, brakes, airbags, tire pressure, and oil life remaining. The report also reminds the driver of mileage and maintenance needed. It really is an amazing report full of feedback on the condition of various systems of the vehicle. The diagnostic report is great feedback that helps a driver maintain a vehicle and keep it functioning safely.  What if the driver got feedback that there was a issue and didn’t take action to address the problem? The report would be worthless. The same is true for customer feedback. It is worthless unless it is used to make improvements. Businesses who care about customer experience put the feedback they receive into action. Consider the hotel chain who got consistently negative feedback from guests about its air adjustable beds. While the beds were initially loved by guests, they wore out quickly and became more uncomfortable than regular beds. Management at the hotel chain listened to the feedback and replaced the beds over time. Obviously this was a costly change but one kept loyal guests coming back. Take the example of a quick oil change company. Management had gotten negative feedback from customers that the television stations in some of the waiting areas were showing soap opera programs that were inappropriate for young children who were...

Ignoring Customers is Risky Business

Consistently providing great service was the foundation that made my businesses successful. Continuous communication and training ensured all employees deeply understood our customer service culture. I believe that all customer feedback is good, including feedback about problems. That is valuable information we can use to improve. In fact, a problem handled quickly and effectively often results in a more loyal customer. So, it amazes me when I interact with businesses that don’t seem to care and in fact, ignore customers. I had a bad experience with an upscale restaurant and sent in a web form about the situation. A month later, they haven’t responded to me. I know they received my web form because I immediately started to get marketing emails from them! A timely response would have had much more impact. Customer service is changing but it isn’t going away. Business can’t ignore customers. 50% of customers give a business only one week to respond before they stop doing business with them and 89% began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. So, I ‘m left wondering why this restaurant, as well as other businesses, ignore customers. Here are four of the top reasons I think businesses don’t respond. They don’t care  Businesses are willing to let bad service go unaddressed. They view problems as a part of doing business. Things do happen but customers deserve and want a response and an apology when things go wrong. 68% of customers expect higher levels of service than they did one year ago. Individual situations should be handled but more importantly, businesses should look at feedback over time...

Five Digital Customer Courtesies

Common customer courtesies are behaviors employees demonstrate that affect the customer experience. How customers feel they are being treated, greatly impacts whether they make a purchase and whether they return to make additional purchases. In fact, 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated and being treated poorly is the number one reason customers leave a business. Most businesses understand the importance of treating customers courteously when they walk through their doors. Acknowledging and greeting customers and a friendly, helpful attitude lets a customer know you care about them. A genuine interest in helping a customer find what they need or solve a problem positively impacts a customer’s experience and decision to continue to do business with you. How does a business transfer courteous behaviors to digital interactions such as emails, web forms or text messages? Our company offers a two-way text channel to businesses and we have identified five basic customer courtesies businesses overlook that can positively affect digital interactions. Timely Acknowledgement Just as you pick up a phone call within a few rings or greet a customer when they walk in the door, a digital message should be acknowledged promptly and handled as soon as possible. Think about how it feels to walk into a business and no one acknowledges you. The same applies to a digital message. Personally acknowledge a digital message from a customer. Let the customer know that you are handling their message and when they can expect a response. Use the Customer’s Name in a Warm Greeting Online interactions have an advantage of coming with some information...

Embrace Text Communication 

The first text message was sent almost 25 years ago. Today, 18.7 billion texts are sent EVERY day! Texting has become the most popular communication channel around the world, across all age groups. A Gallup poll found that sending and receiving text messages is the most prevalent form of communication for American adults under 50. Text communication is the most common form of communication for almost half of those over 50. Texting communication is real-time. Text interactions create faster exchanges between customers and businesses and reduce customer effort to contact businesses. Customers want quick, easy ways to resolve problems and get questions answered. Reducing customer effort increases customer loyalty, retention and spending. Businesses that open a text channel to their customers can reap benefits that result in both top line and bottom line growth. Here are five benefits of real-time communication for businesses. Improves Customer Service Customers are highly frustrated with having to contact a business multiple times to resolve an issue. In fact, 78% of customers have abandoned a transaction or not made an intended purchase due to a poor service experience. Text communication enables customers to easily reach the right person in a business with one message. Businesses can establish a knowledgeable team to respond quickly to answer questions or provide information. No more phone transfers, phone tag, web-forms,  or email exchanges. A robust text communication channel also allows businesses to proactively communicate with their customers, anticipating questions and building trust. Resolve Problems More Efficiently Customers don’t give businesses much time to resolve a problem with 50% leaving within 24 hours of experiencing a problem and 79%...